Film review: UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS, from ‘Built For Speed’

Believe it or not there’s another Underworld film about to hit our cinemas.  Audiences would be forgiven for thinking these outrageously silly, borderline unwatchable S and M vampire fantasies had been consigned to the Golden Raspberry hall of fame but apparently there’s enough fan interest to warrant a fifth film in this ‘vampires versus werewolves’ saga, namely Underworld: Blood Wars.

Here, Lycan (i.e. werewolf)-slaying warrior Selene (Kate Beckinsale) attempts to return to the vampire-fold that betrayed her in the previous film.  Hooking up with an immortal Vampire David (Divergent’s Theo James) Selene begins to ingratiate herself to vampire clan leader Thomas (Charles Dance) but soon finds herself pitted against a treacherous vampire faction as well as the relentless Lycan hordes.

Just like the previous instalments this film is a mess of gothic imagery, video game violence and tedious lectures about vampire politics.  Perhaps any affection for these films had to been born in reading the comics as the story, with its mish-mash of sub-plots, is convoluted to the point of being redundant, the dialogue is embarrassingly clunky and the acting unintentionally comical as just about everyone speaks in stiff pompous British accents.

Also, with its grim monochrome cinematography the film looks dull.  For some reason the film-makers decided to dispense with lighting so everything occurs in near darkness.  This makes the film murky and dreary looking although it does help to obscure some dodgy cgi effects.

The film is also riddled with inconsistencies and ludicrous logic.  Why, for example do the Lycans bother besieging the Vampire compound where they can be mown down with silver bullets when they could much more easily blow a hole in the roof and expose the vampires to deadly sunlight?

For its multitude of faults this film has at least a couple of virtues.  It features a lithe, leather-clad Kate Beckinsale and that alone is a good reason not to completely dismiss it.  Also, when we can see it, the action does have some visceral crunch, there’s a higher proportion of strong female characters than we see in most action films and it gallops along at a decent pace.

It’s just unfortunate that the plot makes little sense and the mythology isn’t remotely interesting – despite the characters constantly explaining it.

Nick’s rating: **.

Genre: Action/ Fantasy/ Horror.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Anna Foerster.

Release date: 1st December 2016.

Running time: 93 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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